Suu Kyi promises inclusive Cabinet

It will include members of other political parties, representatives of ethnic minorities

Myanmar's parliamentary speaker Shwe Mann (left) and Ms Aung San Suu Kyi before their meeting in Parliament in Naypyidaw on Nov 19, 2015.
Myanmar's parliamentary speaker Shwe Mann (left) and Ms Aung San Suu Kyi before their meeting in Parliament in Naypyidaw on Nov 19, 2015. PHOTO: AFP

YANGON • Myanmar's new Cabinet will include members of other political parties and representatives of ethnic minorities, said Ms Aung San Suu Kyi, leader of the National League for Democracy (NLD), yesterday, stressing the need for national reconciliation.

The NLD won a majority in both houses of Myanmar's Parliament in recent elections, faring better than expected against ethnic political parties in regional legislatures.

But Ms Suu Kyi, a Nobel laureate, has emphasised that the first democratically elected government in more than 50 years will seek to reconcile the country's many disparate political groups.

"Our party has won an overwhelming majority of the seats, but we won't take them all," Ms Suu Kyi said, referring to Cabinet seats in an interview with Radio Free Asia's Myanmar language service broadcast yesterday.

"As I said earlier, we will cooperate with others with the spirit of sharing our success with them based on building national reconciliation. Of course the NLD will lead. It is the mandate the people have given to us at our request.

"We will include ethnic representatives who are not NLD members and others who can benefit the country."

The interview did not touch on the persecuted minority Rohingya Muslims who were not allowed to vote in the election and are effectively stateless in their own land.

The NLD captured enough seats in the national-level legislature to have its choice of president, who is elected by members of Parliament.

The president then selects the Cabinet. Ms Suu Kyi has said that regardless of who is appointed president, she will call the shots as leader of the winning party.

The new Parliament will sit and elect a president in February, and the new administration will begin its five-year term on April 1.

A quarter of all Parliament seats are reserved for unelected military officials and three powerful ministries - defence, home affairs and border affairs - are under the remit of the Commander-in-chief, Senior General Min Aung Hlaing.

Ms Suu Kyi stressed the importance of meeting Gen Min Aung Hlaing and President Thein Sein to insure a smooth transition of power.

Both have accepted Ms Suu Kyi's invitation to meet, but no date has been set. "I want these meetings to happen soonest," she said. "We should start taking steps fast, one after another, towards a smooth transfer of power."

Observers and analysts have said the Nov 8 election was not as inclusive as it should have been. Even in areas where the voting was inclusive, with the exception of Rakhine state, it led to a rout of almost all ethnic minority parties. Building bridges with ethnic minorities will be a key challenge for the Bamar, or Burman-dominated NLD.


A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on November 27, 2015, with the headline 'Suu Kyi promises inclusive Cabinet'. Subscribe